By Zelda Greenberg
The phone rings, the email “in” box is full, there’s a knock on the door, and to top it off your next appointment is waiting in the lobby. You have a hectic life and it’s loaded with interruptions every day. Yet, you bounce back and forth each day from one task to the next because after all you are great at multi-tasking – or so you think.
Dangerously, we multi task even in our automobiles. How easy is it to concentrate on that call from the boss and navigate the highway at the same time? Sure you can do it but at what cost. Remember life before mobile phones? In the past if you had an important phone call to make while driving you had to find a phone booth. Then you pulled over, stopped the car and only then did you make the call. That phone call got all your attention.
Every time you switch from one task to the next you are jolting your brain to flip on and off like a light switch. Your brain has to mentally shut down then reboot. How effective do you think you are? Women are notorious at multi-tasking. Women learn to talk on a phone while changing a diaper. We feed the baby and cook dinner, help with our child’s homework, all at the same time.
Quality work requires doing a job well, not five jobs completed mediocre. There are times when multi-tasking is necessary but many times we are simply trying to accomplish too much at one time. When does one stop all the juggling and determine which tasks should take precedence. Here are some simple solutions that will help you stop doing so much at the same time.
Prioritize: In order to accomplish your tasks and complete them well you can first prioritize the tasks. What deadlines must be met? What appointments or research must be met? Look at all the projects you are facing and determine what must happen first. Then determine all the tasks necessary to complete the project successfully. Work all the other tasks of the day around the most important one.
Plan: At the end of each day create a “To Do” list for the next day. Here is where you write the tasks that are essential to complete a project on a deadline. When planning out the day be sure to schedule a lunch break. The lunch break allows you the essential time to step away from the project and give it some prospective.
Delegate: This can be very difficult for many people. Many people seem to think they need to do everything. In reality, there are others that can do some of the tasks quite well and you can then use your time more effectively. Let someone else on staff handle some Emails, answer the phone, and sort the mail. Is there someone in the office that is really good at website content? You can even go to the local college to find Interns that are begging for work experience.
Outsource: Let’s face it if race car driving was simple we would all be race car drivers. The same is true in business. When you outsource a project you are bringing in someone else’s expertise and thus freeing up your time to do other tasks that you do best. If you are in the Insurance industry then most likely web design is not your strongest skill. Hire someone in the business of web design to actually design your website. A salesperson might be an incredible closer but not so great at creating superior marketing material. That’s a job you outsource. As a licensed community association manager homeowners hire me to manage their home owner’s associations. Sure the home owners can self manage but it’s a lot more effective to outsource this job to a licensed CAM that knows the state laws that will directly impact what they can and cannot legally require of the home owners. Outsourcing for a specific job makes perfect sense.
Social Media: Working on a company’s social media presence is time consuming. Today there is an emerging industry of Virtual Assistants (VA). These people can be hired to handle all your company internet needs. They will update your Blog, keep your LinkedIn and Facebook page fresh. They will make all the updates needed to keep your company name in front of those that are your target market.
No: Learn to say “no” to people that are interrupting your day. You get to control the day’s activities and if someone is demanding your attention determine where that person fits into your priority plan.
Multi-tasking is over-rated. Juggling so many different tasks means you don’t necessarily do the job to the best of your ability. Sure you might complete the job but is it sloppy work? Is it filled with mistakes requiring you to go back and review and rework the task? Everyday people will call, email, and enter your day. You must determine if you can and will make the time to connect with them or not. Remember you might be on their high priority list for the day but that does not mean they are on your priority list.
We all know that there are only so many hours to the day. Take the time to figure out what is most important to help you achieve the goals you have for your career. Implement these six tips and you will be able to successfully stop juggling so much in a day. This will help you stack the cards in your favor to completing your projects timely and effectively and thus make you shine.
Zelda Greenberg is a consultant, speaker and entrepreneur who inspires others to turn obstacles into opportunities, reach greatness in business and flourish through adversity. As the former president of Women Business Owners of North Florida and a past recipient of the regional SBA Family-Owned Business of the Year Award, Zelda helps improve businesses of all sizes. For information on her consulting and speaking call 904-262-7357.